As I lace up my sneakers, I look over at him; sitting upright, head tilted, big goofy smile on his face, and tail wagging. His eyes are pleading, ‘take me with you’, he knows exactly what he is doing. His adorable face never fails and I sigh to myself; ‘it’s not like I am training for the Olympics’…Loki can come with me.
My plans for my morning rhythmic moving meditation are quickly thrown out the window; so much for crushing my previous time, and so much for running an extra 5 kilometers today. Loki is more of a hundred-yard dash, lay it all out on the line and make sure you get there first type of runner, not a long-distance marathoner. But, we have one thing in common- the joy we get from running outside.
As we head out the door, I realize my morning run may not be as productive as I hoped, but life isn’t all about achieving goals, it’s about enjoying the process. Sometimes, when it comes to our health goals it’s more about having fun! I know Loki will sprint the first few kilometers and then get bored and pretend he needs to pee every five minutes. He will sniff every tree, bench, pole or dog in sight, but that's okay because we both love to run and we are spending time outside together.
Should I get a dog?
There are many things to consider when asking yourself this question. A dog is a huge responsibility, and involves significant financial and time commitments. Be sure you consider the decision with as much thought as you would put into having a child, then go out and pick out the most adorable, cuddly puppy you have ever seen!
Having a dog can be good for your overall health in so many ways:
All dogs even the most laid back breads should be walked twice a day. So, if you have trouble motivating yourself to go for a walk, a dog will get you moving more. For those of us that already get a lot of exercise, having a dog brings so much more pleasure to hiking, snowshoeing and other outdoor activities. Loki has even climbed to the top of mountains, to the pleasant surprise of other summiteers.
Increased levels of Oxytocin
Dogs are such affectionate creatures! And they love you, just the way you are. There is nothing like coming home from a long day of work to the excitement your dog will display when he sees you. Without fail every time I walk through the door Loki is there, running down the hall to knock me over with a kiss, then he’ll run back and forth doing this several times, gaining more speed with each lap, just in case I didn’t get the message the first time, ‘I missed you!’. Just imagine your partner greeted you like a dog does, it makes me laugh every time I think of it. Even the most affectionate, excitable person could not have the same effect. Pet cuddling reduces anxiety and stress, by increasing your levels of oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’. Studies have shown that increased levels of oxytocin can help you sleep you sleep.
Diversifies your microbiome
Another reason that has been discussed a lot lately in mainstream media is the idea of pets contributing to a healthy home. Some studies show that having a dog can lower a child's risk of asthma and other allergies. Many scientist now believe that we are over sanitizing our world and that people, especially young children can benefit from being exposed to harmless microbes to help 'train' their immune system. According to doctor Robynne Chutkan, "the vast majority of the microbes cannines pass on to us are helpful or benign", so never be afraid of a kiss from a puppy. According to doctor Chutkan, "the health promoting microbes come from; soil, unfiltered unchlorinated water, and the poo of other animals that our dogs are checking out".
For the full interview with doctor Robynne Chutkan visit: thebark.com/content/exploring-humane-and-canine-microbiome?page=2